Our Beautiful World

The Forests in Kamchatka

Flowers and grasses of Kamchatka
 Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru 

9.The Forests in Kamchatka

About one thousand species of vascular plants inhabit the oblast of Kamchatka.
We are not going to describe all of them here......
Click here to look at the flowers
But as the forest are a dominating part of the flora of Kamchatka, they also deserve
their own page in this story about Kamchatka..

Kamchatka's forest stock (Jan.1998) amounts to 15,046,300 ha, or 87.8 percent
of the total land area. Stone birch (see below), are the most widespread and comprise four-fiths
of all of Kamchatka's forests. They are dominant in the lowlands and in the middle zone of the
mountainous parts of the peninsula. Dahurian larch (see below) forests occupy central
Kamchatka's lowland and extend to an altitude of 200-300m in the ranges.
Other species occurquite rarely, often in highly localized habitats.

The most widely distributed species are Japanese stone pine (Pinus pumila)
The Japanese stone pine grows in high mountain areas and has a lot of branches.
The height is short, ranging from 1 to 2 meters.

Photo: © The shirayama-no-ki Archives

no picture available yet
Another dominating tree in Kamchatka: Shrub alder (Alnus incana)

The rough bluejoint (Calamagrostis langsdorfii / canadensis).
Photo: © Virginia Kline

Of all Kamchatka’s forest species elfin cedar (Pinus pumila (Pallas) Regel) deserves a
special attention. The nuts from its cones are not so big as of Siberian cedar, but also
very healthy; they are intensively picked and used in food.
Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru 

Elfin cedar (Pinus pumila (Pallas) Regel)
From a bird's-eye view, the brushwood of elfin cedar resembles dark green thick carpets
thrown by a caring hand over the mountain ridges. It looks soft as a harmless undergrowth
with regular trees rising solidly over it. However, these are ones of the most hard to traverse
places in Kamchatka.

The cedar's branches always go down along the slope. Continuos thickets of the cedar are
absolutely impassable, and this is still more pitiful for the fact that the cedar forest's height
seldom exceeds one and a half or two meters. Anyway this tree is terrific. Dry elfin cedar's
branches burn like gunpowder in any weather, the infusion of the cedar's needles is the best
medicine for scurvy, and its cones ripening in September make happy all those who are keen
on cedar nuts. The only question here is who is going to be the first to pick them: a man,
a bear or a nut-cracker.

Stone birch (Betula ermanii)
Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru 
Erman's birch
Kamchatka's forest is certainly the forest of Erman's birch. An unpretentious tree that learnt
to grow both in the valley and in the mountains covers nearly one third of the entire area of
Kamchatka. It is still most wide-spread, meanwhile the scarce larch, fur and poplar forests
are cut down as timber. It would be the most sorrowful result of this human "economic activity"
if after the extermination of more valuable tree breeds, the Erman's birch - one of the symbols
of Kamchatka along with geysers, salmon and bears - will follow the same doom.

Stonebirch communities occupy the lower
and middle mountain belt in Southern
Kamchatka landscape
Photo: © GeoPacifica.org

. The birches on the plateaus in the mountains are crooked as if by evil chants, in the river
valleys they are vigorous and unshakeable. The birches' roots can hold the tree horizontally
on the precipes and such steep slopes where even stlanik cannot grow.
Kamchatka's summer is short: birch buds open in June while in August the trees have yellow
"locks" - the first sign of approaching autumn.

Willow (Salix)
aromatic poplar, (Populus suaveolens)
apsen , (Populus tremula)
dahurian larch , (Larix gmelini)
Ayan spruce, (Picea ayanensis)
monarch birch, (Betula maximovitschii)

Flood-plain forests of chosenia (Chosenia arbutifolia), willows and aromatic poplar
stretch in narrow strips along the banks of rivers.

The only place the Sakhalin fir, (Abies sachalinensis), grows in Kamchatka,
is near the souther border of the Kronotsky Biosphere Zapovednik, the first
protected area of all Kamchatka, formed as long ago as in 1882 to protect sable,
snow sheep and reindeer.


more to follow
Text and pictures on this page:
 Courtesy: http://www.kamchatka.org.ru 

 0. Main menu
 1. Preface
 2. Where on Earth is Kamchatka?
 3. Animals - Wildlife
 4. Birds - Birding
 5. Flora - The Flowers
 6. Sealife
 7. Valley of Geysers
 8. The Volcanoes of Kamchatka
10. The Indigenous People of Kamchatka
11. Vitus Bering, explorer
12. Georg Steller, naturalist

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